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Western Price Survey

July 14, 2017
California Power Imports Now Lower Thanks to Greater Renewables Output

Increased renewable generation has moderated the need for California to source power from outside its borders this summer.

There has been “a distinct decline in imports compared to last year, especially over the evening peak,” according to a recent EnergyGPS research note.

“From an outright generation perspective, the downside in imports [year-over-year] is more than offset by the shift up in renewable generation thanks to a record breaking hydro year and increased solar capacity.”

Renewable generation is strongest in the early to midday hours rather than in the evening hours, observed analysts. Thermal generation is roughly 3 GW weaker in the morning; a bit than a gigawatt stronger at about 8 p.m.

Total renewables generation on the CAISO grid reached 13,603 MW July 11. Solar generation reached 9,265 MW July 12 while thermal generation peaked at 25,355 MW July 7.

Western power prices were comparatively even between July 7 and July 14.

Daytime power prices generally gained value, adding between 30 cents and $6.60 in Friday-to-Friday trading. Palo Verde proved the exception, down $6.10 to $35.55/MWh. By July 14, prices ranged from $27.20/MWh at Mid-Columbia to $43/MWh at South of Path 15.

Off-peak power prices added roughly a dollar in trading save for South of Path 15, which dropped $1.40 to $33/MWh July 14.

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Working natural gas in storage was 2,945 Bcf as of July 7, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, a a net increase of 57 Bcf compared to the previous week.

Storage levels are now 8.9 percent less than a year ago and 6.2 percent greater than the five-year average.

National natural gas consumption rose 6 percent compared to the previous report week. Natural gas use for power generation increased 10 percent week-over-week.

Henry Hub gas spot values rose 6 cents to end at $2.94/MMBtu between July 6 and July 13.

Western natural gas prices varied in the trading period. Alberta natural gas rebounded from the previous week, adding 90 cents to $1.82/MMBtu in trading while Southern California Border gas dropped 46 cents to $2.76/MMBtu.

California prices are being affected by the curtailment of natural gas delivery into Northern California, according to the EIA. Flow at a compressor station on the Gas Transmission Northwest pipeline decreased to 1.2 Bcf/d from 1.6 Bcf/d, on average, the week prior.

CAISO demand peaked in the calendar week at 43,404 MW July 10. Northwest Power Pool demand reached 64,802 MW July 13, but the week’s high is expected July 14 when demand of 65,080 MW is forecast. –Linda Dailey Paulson.

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.


The Western Price Survey is excerpted from Energy NewsData's comprehensive regional news services. See for yourself how NewsData reporters put events in an accurate and meaningful context -- request a sample of either or both California Energy Markets and Clearing Up.

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Contact Chris Raphael, editor with questions regarding Price Survey content.

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